From Text to Textile: Rethinking Maya Writing

When and Where

Thursday, March 04, 2021 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Online, via Zoom


Rita Palacios & Paul Worley


The Latin American Studies program at the University of Toronto is proud to invite you to a lecture by Rita Palacios and Paul Worley, titled "From Text to Textile: Rethinking Maya Literature"

About the Presentation
This presentation sets out to show how the study of Maya literature from Mexico and Guatemala benefits from an approach that privileges Maya ways of thinking and of creating. Specifically, we propose a move away from the written word and towards the ts’iib, a Maya concept that includes writing among other forms of artistic creation, particularly those recorded on a surface and which includes writing, weaving, painting, drawing, and carving, to name a few. This particular approach rejects traditional Western norms and centers Maya thought above all else, relying on the work of Maya intellectuals. Finally, this approach allows us, critics and students of Maya cultural production, to observe a rich multimodal dialogue that takes place between ancient and contemporary texts that would otherwise be lost under the traditional lens of literary studies.

About the Presenters
Rita Palacios is a Language Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Conestoga College. She received her PhD in Latin American Literature from the University of Toronto in 2009. She specializes in contemporary Maya cultural production (literature and art, primarily) from Iximulew in Guatemala. She recently co-authored Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge (2019) with Paul M. Worley, and has published articles on Maya poetry, performance, and art. In general, her research interests include Indigenous literatures of the Americas, issues of gender and queerness in Latin American literature and culture, and post-war Guatemalan literature.

Paul M. Worley is an Associate Professor of Global Literature at Western Carolina University. Co-written with Dr. Rita M. Palacios, his most recent book, Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge (2019), was given an honorable mention for Best Book in the Humanities by LASA’s Mexico Section. He is also the author of Telling and Being Told: Storytelling and Cultural Control in Contemporary Yucatec Maya Literatures (2013; oral performances recorded as part of this book project are available at, a Fulbright Scholar, and 2018 winner of the Sturgis Leavitt Award from the Southeastern Council on Latin American Studies (SECOLAS). In addition to his academic work, he has translated selected works by Indigenous authors such as Xun Betan, Hubert Malina, Adriana López, Manuel Tzoc, and Ruperta Bautista.


This presentation is organized in the context of our course LAS 302 H1, "Indigenous Realities of Latin America".

Contact Information


Department of Spanish & Portuguese